Saturday, April 6, 2013

Why Say No To GMO?

Over the weekend I noticed the “Say No To GMO” protest at Parkinson (A rec center here that holds the off season farmers market). I was a little confused. Did the people protesting understand that almost everything we eat has been genetically modified. Or that our species has been genetically modifying the food we grow for thousands of years. Granted today we can modify the plants in a lab, instead of selective pollinating out in the field. But does that make it bad?

Science says no. Everything bio-tech product that comes out of a lab is strictly regulated, and rigorously tested before it is allowed to come to market. The benefits of being able to target certain genes in a lab, makes the process faster and safer then selective pollinating in the field. There are great things being done in the biotechnology field, we can now make plants more pest resistant, which means less pesticide. Higher yield crops means more food on less space. They can now even enhance the vitamin content of the food to make it even more healthy. Why, after all of that, would you still want to say no to GMO?

The truth is, the argument against biotechnology is one of ignorance and fear. Like most new technology on the market people are afraid of it. Some don't really understand it. And ever prevalent is the naturalistic logical fallacy, the belief that everything natural is good and anything done in a lab is bad for you. While I can give you numerous examples of instances where this is not true, I will try to keep this letter short.

So, instead of saying no to GMO, say yes to science education and scientific literacy.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Creationist Challenge

So it came to my attention, that a creationist from California was offering $10,000 to anyone who could prove evolution over creationism in a court of law. At first this seemed like it would have been an easy $10,000, but when you start to look at the wording, things become a little more dodgy. If at this point any of my readers are wondering what a creationist is, it is someone who believes that everything was created by a supernatural power, just as we see it today, and that evolution isn't true.

Let's start with whether or not there is even a debate here. Spoiler, there isn't. Evolution is so well proven, and empirically verified that there is no longer a question as to whether or not it happened. It did. For over 150 years, it's been tested more than any other scientific theory we have. There is thousands of lines of investigation, with hundreds of thousands of pieces of evidence.

So, if evolution is considered a fact, why does it seem like no one is taking him up on this offer. Well, lets look at his offer, this is from the new source that first reported it.

California creationist is offering a $10,000 challenge to anyone who can prove in front of a judge that science contradicts the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis.

Seems straightforward enough, but when you look closer at the claim, science would have to disprove creation in order to win. The way this is set up is a win win for him.

So, why can't science disprove this. Science can't disprove anything, that's not how it works. We can prove something does exist, or that something did happen, however we can never prove that something does not exist, or that something never happened. Go ahead and try it, prove to me that hobbits don't exist, and that Frodo never carried the one ring.

I'm going to make a prediction here. I think that most of those who can prove evolution, won't take the bait. There is a problem with this. If no one steps up to take this on, the creationists will use this as “evidence” that science is wrong. However if someone does take this up, and loses, which they will because this is how it is set up, then again the creationists will use this as more “evidence” of their position. Either way, there are those who will use this as an excuse to try and push the teaching of their wrong and outdated beliefs on our children.

Science is science, and it is not decided in a court, or debate, or by popular opinion. Science is based on empirical evidence. Scientific theories are facts.

You can read the full story of the challenge here